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American Anglican Council Meeting Summary
Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council
Monday, November 24, 2003
This was the first meeting of the Georgia AAC. The Atlanta AAC enlarged its domain because it had many attendees from the diocese of Georgia at the last meeting. There were between 400 to 450 people present. At least 100 to 150 people came from St. Judes and St. Andrews (AAC affiliated parishes) with large groups from Columbus and Savannah. There was a sizable contingent from the Cathedral and there was also a handful from PA, TN, SC, and FL.
The meeting began with some worship music by the Christ Church, Savannah Folk Group. This was followed by an invocation by Canon David B. Collins (Dean emeritus of St Phillip's Cathedral). He read from what he said was the 1662 BCP (except I believe it's actually from the 1789 BCP), "The Prayer to be said before a fight at sea against any enemy".
We then heard opening statements by William Bugg, President of the Georgia Chapter. At the last meeting of the Atlanta AAC $45,000 was collected. It was spent $18,000 for primate travel (African) and $29,000 to set up GA-AAC offices etc.
There was a lengthy criticism on how hostile the diocese of Atlanta was. They would not let St. Judes put an ad in the diocesan newspaper "The Dialog" for their ACC affiliate church. Neither would they take an ad from the AAC for this meeting. The diocese’s claim was the AAC was too controversial. But the worst sin was not officially sanctioning Bishop Duncan’s presence in the Diocese.
Attendees from the Diocese of Georgia were specifically welcomed because their Bishop is "on the fence" regarding realignment.
Bishop Duncan spent a lot of time on the future of Orthodox Anglicanism. He spoke about closing a church the previous day. Lutherans and Methodists were there and he says they came up to him again and again and said they prayed for him because they know all mainline denominations are off-track.
He made assurances that this whole thing was not about sexuality. "The straw that broke the camel’s back", he said. He gave no other specifics, however.
He talked about Plano and restated his "10 points". He said he had hoped that that ECUSA would be "Cast into utter Darkness" and "fall apart like the Soviet Union", but although these things had not happened, he was upbeat about the way things were progressing. He spoke of gathering up the fragments (like AMiA) into the AAC "network" and said that this "network of confessing dioceses and parishes" would include women clergy as well as those opposed to the ordination of women.
He gave his version of the primates meeting on 10/16 and 10/17. He thought that ECUSA was sternly rebuked but arrogantly refused to repent and return to the Anglican fold. The primates and Archbishop of Cantebury Rowan Williams gave definite approval for episcopal oversight. He also said that the mainline church was way off track, and later stated that bishops that had anything to do with the consecration of Bishop Robinson were in apostacy and a part of the "forces of darkness." He said that the Primates had agreed that they can fall out of communion with partners. According to Bishop Duncan, the AAC would not resort to the "canonical thuggery" that ECUSA did, but would use what he called, "canonical creativity" to achieve their ends.
Bishop Duncan was clearly pleased when he reported that the churches of Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya had broken communion with ECUSA. He also stated that Russian Orthodox Church had broken all ties with ECUSA. He had assurances that the Central African Anglicans would recognize the AAC sponsored new network. Although never articulated, it seems that the network would have as its head a new primate that would be welcome in the southern primacies.
The realignment is to be based on a "network of confessing dioceses and parishes." He also stated that 8 bishops were in league with the AAC and he hoped more which 8 to 12% of the US dioceses and he thought that some of the Canadian dioceses would also come along. He stated that half of the Canadian Bishops, including all of the native dioceses in Canada signed the letter rebuking the Robinson consecration and he thought they would join the network.
He said it was significant that Archbishop Rowan Williams met with the AAC immediately after the primates meeting in October. He also said that the Archbishop assured him that the geographical diocesan model will change. He was disappointed that the Archbishop would not interfere in legal issues in the US, however. And he said the Arccbishop of Cantebury specifically didn't want a "frontier solution".
He spoke about "Adequate Episcopal Oversight." He stressed that he wants the parish to decide what adequate means. Specifically, he feels that the parish should never have to deal with their Bishop, instead, they can approach the alternative Diocese who will stand behind them during the transition.
He said that the Archbishop of Cantebury used the term "Network of Confessing dioceses and parishes" as an intentional parallel to those "confessing" churches in Europe who eschewed Nazism. (I refuse to believe that this was an intentional comparison by the Archbishop, however.)
David Anderson also spoke. He said that the Orthodox Anglican Church was based on the "pillar" of biblical authority and that reason could not be trusted because one could reason ones way to any position and oft-times emotion was really what was happening.
He restated that this is not about sexuality, however no other instance of apostacy was offered.
He proudly claimed that AAC was "building a shadow church within a church" (by getting as many "orthodox" clergy ordained as possible in favorable diocese) meaning much like the party that is out of power in Britain has. That means the AAC would be ready to step in if something happened to ECUSA.
He discussed his attempts to shepherd priests through the ordination process in the Diocese of Los Angles. He felt that the Diocesan review board had rejected his deciples out of hand because they were "orthodox". In his opinion they were most highly qualified. He said his first test case was an "orthodox" hispanic woman who was rejected at the diocesan level and left the church.
Canon Anderson restated that they want the parish to determine what "adequate oversight" is. He suggested that people "might want to" download and fill out the forms (with the help of their priest and vestry, of course). According to Canon Anderson, their intention is to get a stack of them and present them to Archbishop Rowan Williams, Archbishop Griswold, and the other Primates. He related the position of power that they will hold if they have a multitude of parishes behind them seeking "adequate episcopal oversight"
He stated the need to go slow, "don't want to outrun the supply lines", He said. But he confessed he was disappointed because he wanted a "Strong, dare I say, brutal action from the primates", instead the statement was "Nuanced", "Diplomatic".
He said the AAC are meeting in Orlando soon to draft a theological statement. He stressed having the "network" neatly organised in order to get primatial endorsement and he stressed the importance of Archbishop of Cantebury approval when all is said and done. He stated that that they will protect their clergy by using the Rosemont/Rwanda trick (of sending letters dimmisory overseas to avoid canonical judgment) again, if necessary, as often as necessary.
He says that in a recent meeting he told Archbishop Griswold that he has instructed parishes who are ready to leave their buildings to wait until winter so that the Diocesan Bishop has to pay the heating bills on an empty building.
Anderson stated that the Bishops who participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson should not be allowed to represent the Anglican communion and are really, "very high church Unitarian Universalists." He said that they should "take the proper steps." He stated that the same Bishops who supported Bishop Swing’s United Religions Initiative were the ones who supported Bishop Robinson's confirmation. He condemned the United Religions Initiative as akin to polytheism. And stated that Jesus is not "A way, a truth, and a life. He is the way, the truth, and the life."
During the Question and Answer session, questions were written on 3" by 5" cards and chosen by the moderator. They were asked how long it would take for the network of confessing dioceses and parishes to be active and vibrant? The answer was that the network would be operational within a year and it would be hale and robust within five years.
They were asked, "Does ‘Adequate Episcopal Oversight’ allow us to leave ECUSA?" They did not answer this question, instead responding that "it's more a shift of jurisdiction" and that what they planned was to concentrate on forming the "network".
They were asked, "How do I have my child confirmed by an Orthodox Bishop?" Canon Anderson responded, "Have we got a plan for you!" First, we get your senior warden to transfer the kid to one of our friendly Canadian Bishops' Jurisdiction. Then when we get enough, we bring the Bishop down. He confirms the kids. (he can because they are ostensibly now members of his flock) Then we can transfer them back. "Don't you just love the holes left in the Canons?", He said.
Responding to a question about leaving the property, Bishop Duncan compared the Primates statement to the Allied ultimatum to Nazi Germany against entering Poland. He said that there may be "a few Dunkirks" where "confessing" parishes are forced to leave the properties, but they will have victory in the end.